Here is the Booking Through Thursday prompt: “Name a favorite literary couple and tell me why they are a favorite. If you cannot choose just one, that is okay too. Name as many as you like . . .”
Hmmm . . . Initially I take this to mean a writer and his or her significant other — in that case it’s Henry Miller and Anais Nin, mainly because of the movie Henry & June (1990), which is one of my favorite movies. The love triangle between Henry (Fred Ward), Anais (Maria de Medeiros), and June (Uma Thurman) is intriguing and complicated. The film itself is gorgeous, though a romanticized version of Paris in the ’30s.
Given that the film was drawn from Nin’s published journals it’s not surprising the film registers such a romantic and stylized evocation of Paris in the ’30s. According to The Erotic Life of Anais Nin by Noel Riley Fitch, in her journals Nin created a stylized persona.
Arguably, of course, all writers — diarists, memoirists, novelists, etc.— create personae. Vivian Gornick argues in her wonderful little book on writing personal essays and memoirs The Situation and the Story that writers, even nonfiction writers — perhaps especially nonfiction writers— must create a persona when they write:
Out of the raw material of a writer’s own undisguised being a narrator is fashioned whose existence on the page is integral to the tale being told. This narrator becomes a persona. Its tone of voice, its angle of vision, the rhythm of its sentences, what it selects to observe and what to ignore are chosen to serve the subject; yet at the same time the way the narrator — or the persona — sees things is, to the largest degree, the thing being seen. . . .the creation of such a persona is vital in an essay or a memoir. It is the instrument of illumination. Without it there is neither subject nor story.
Now back to the subject of this post: literary couples (couples in a relationship, of course, also develop personae). After rereading the prompt, I also thought about literary lovers on the page, actual characters in a novel, and I’m really intrigued by the literary couple Henry DeTamble and Clare Abshire in Audrey Niffenegger‘s The Time Traveler’s Wife. Such an interesting premise: A love story complicated by the fact that one of the lovers has a genetic disorder that causes him to time travel.
In the process of reading this novel, I’ve been pondering the idea of time travel. The whole what if of it. And so I have my own writing prompt for readers of this post:
What if you could time travel? What would you do? Would you try to influence the past or future in some way?
Post your answers either in comments or post a link to the answer. I’ll be posting my own answer later.